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Highlighting the most important, bizarre, strange, interesting and historic stats from this week in college football.
Numbers and statistics are unquestionably a huge part of the game. Any game, for that matter.
Some fall on the sabermetric side of things, while others like to keep it simple and use the ol' eyeball test. In the football world, that means total offense, total defense and points scored versus points per play and defensive efficiency ratings. Rational and logical arguments can be made for the legitimacy and relevance of both sides of the stats spectrum.
With that in mind, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of college football action:
7,997: AJ McCarron's Alabama school-record passing yards
The most underrated two-time national championship quarterback of all time now has the statistics his critics always points to. He passed John Parker Wilson (7,924) on Saturday against LSU to become Alabama's all-time leading passer. With his perfect play against the Tiger (179 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions), McCarron moved to 34-2 all-time as a starter and to within one win of Alabama's all-time wins leader (Jay Barker, 35). He has the stats, he has the wins and he has the talent — he should be the highest drafted Alabama quarterback in May since Richard Todd went in the first round in 1976. Nothing about AJ McCarron says "game manager," and it's time people started acknowledging it. Some more tidbits from Bama's impressive 38-17 win over LSU: Alabama moved to 71-3 under Nick Saban when leading at halftime and to 58-0 since 2008 when rushing for at least 140 yards.
62: Rushing yards by Oregon against Stanford
The Ducks entered Thursday night's showdown with Stanford averaging 301.6 yards rushing per game on 6.7 yards per carry in 2013. But for the second straight season, a stacked Cardinal front seven baffled the dynamic and explosive Ducks rushing attack. Oregon mustered just 62 yards rushing on 2.6 yards per carry in the 26-20 loss on The Farm. It was the first time since the season opener against LSU in 2011 the Ducks have been held to fewer than 100 yards rushing (95). Oregon posted season lows in total yards (312), yards per play (5.4), points scored (20) and first downs (17). News broke just minutes before the game on Thursday that quarterback Marcus Mariota had suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee, so the injury played a huge role in Oregon's struggles. Mariota is now 20-2 as a starter at Oregon with both losses coming at the hands of David Shaw and Stanford.
320: Auburn rushing yards per game in 2013
After 53 rushing attempts, 444 yards and five touchdowns on the ground in a blowout win over Tennessee in Knoxville, Auburn now ranks third in the NCAA with 320.0 yards rushing per game. That is 15 more yards rushing per game under Gus Malzahn this season than the entire offense posted per game last season. Auburn totaled 305.0 yards of offense per game last year, ranking 118th nationally — out of 124 teams. Quarterback Nick Marshall carried for 214 yards against UT, posting the third-best rushing total by an Auburn quarterback in school history behind only Travis Tidwell (222 in 1946) and Cam Newton (217 in 2010). Marshall completed just three passes for 35 yards in the win and Auburn has now completed as many passes as offensive touchdowns scored (11) over the last two games. After scoring 55 against the Vols, Auburn is 17th nationally in scoring offense at 38.6 points per game after scoring just 18.7 per game a year ago — good for 114th nationally. Auburn controls its own destiny with games against Georgia and Alabama looming in the next few weeks.
Minus-69: Michigan rushing yards in the last two games
Michigan posted a school record minus-48 yards rushing last weekend in the ugly road loss to in-state rival Michigan State. That isn't all that shocking considering how good the Spartans defense has been all year. However, against a Nebraska defense that had allowed 516 rushing yards in its last two games, Michigan once again was held to negative rushing yards. The Maize and Blue totaled minus-21 yards rushing in the 17-13 loss to the Cornhuskers. The loss not only knocks Michigan completely out of the Legends Division race but it snapped the nation's longest home winning streak. Brady Hoke had won 20 consecutive games in The Big House until the Huskers upset the Wolverines on Saturday.
115: Aaron Murray SEC-record TD passes
Murray threw for 281 yards and two touchdowns in a 45-6 cake walk over Appalachian State. He now how thrown more touchdown passes than any player in SEC history, passing Danny Wuerffel (114) for No. 1 all time. Murray is now the all-time SEC leader in passing touchdowns (115), passing yards (12,568) and total offense (12,885). The biggest thing left unfinished on Murray's resume is an SEC Championship. And with a little help from Ole Miss or Texas A&M (one of whom needs to beat Missouri) and a win over Auburn and Kentucky in the next two weeks, Murray will likely get his revenge match in the SEC Championship Game with Alabama.
1945: Last year Vanderbilt won in The Swamp
In fact, the 7-0 Vanderbilt win over Florida in 1945 was the first meeting between the two schools and, before Saturday's 34-17 victory, was the only time Vanderbilt had won in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The Commodores hadn't topped the Gators anywhere since 1988 (22 games) and are only 9-35-2 all-time against the Gators. Vanderbilt has now beaten Georgia and Florida in the same season for the first time in school history and it could be devastating for Will Muschamp. The Gators are 4-5 and in danger of missing the postseason for the first time since 1990. Florida must win two of the last three games: at South Carolina, Georgia Southern and Florida State. The Dores have to win only one of three to make it to an unprecedented third consecutive bowl: Kentucky, at Tennesse and Wake Forest.
1994: Last year Duke had a winning record
David Cutcliffe took Duke to a bowl game last season for the first time since 1994. With an impressive home win over NC State 38-20, Duke moves to 7-2 on the year and is guaranteed a winning record for the first time since… 1994. The Blue Devils will go to back-to-back bowls for the first time in school history, and after winning five straight, has a chance to win the Coastal Division. Duke won't leave the state the rest of the regular season as it hosts Miami and visits Wake Forest and North Carolina to finish the year. Cutcliffe needs to be mentioned among Art Briles, Gus Malzahn and Gary Pinkel as a National Coach of the Year candidate.
1: Frank Beamer QBs to throw for 300 yards in back-to-back games
Beamer has coached at Virginia Tech for 27 years and has won 222 games, lost 107 times and tied twice. He has coached in 20 consecutive bowl games, has won seven conference championships and has had multiple Offensive Players of the Year under center (Michael Vick, Tyrod Taylor, Bryan Randall, Jim Druckenmiller). But until Saturday's whipping of Miami, he had never had a quarterback throw for at least 300 yards in back-to-back games. And off all the great quarterbacks he has had, it's the embattled and turnover-prone Logan Thomas who got it done by throwing for 386 yards in the 42-24 win over the Canes. He threw for 391 yards in the road loss to Boston College last weekend. The race in the ACC Coastal is now wide open as four teams are tied with two conference losses with three weeks to play.
37.5: USC Pac-12 scoring offense under Ed Orgeron
In three years as a head coach at Ole Miss, Ed Orgeron's offense scored 30 points or more once (38, Northwestern State). In four Pac-12 games as the interim head coach at USC, Orgeron's team has scored at least 30 points three times and is averaging 37.5 points per game. Orgeron is unbeaten in conference play (4-0) as the head coach after topping Cal 62-28 this weekend. The Trojans posted 499 yards of offense and scored three times on special teams. USC sits at 4-2 in the league and is one game behind Arizona State in the Pac-12 South standings.